Why I’m Going to the Homecoming Dance (And Why I Understand if You Aren’t)

Ellen Savarese

Homecoming copy 2

Full disclosure: I did not originally want to go to the homecoming dance. I’m still not entirely happy about it. I’ve got a fun date, a pretty dress, and my friends have chosen a great restaurant, but I’m not sold. I’m what you might classify as an “introvert.” I’m not thrilled by the prospect of people.


So being packed into a suddenly too-small gym with far too many of them (for the 4th year in a row, I might add) isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. The music is fine, but not memorable. The atmosphere is decent, but doesn’t quite make it to “fun.” To everyone who has alternate plans for the evening: I salute you. We can all agree that I’m not going to the dance for the dance. “So Ellen, why are you going at all?” You ask. And this is where I make my point.

I’m going to the homecoming dance because somehow, this tiny part of my brain has decided that I need to make the most of my high school days while I still have them left. Before you show up at my doorstep with torches and pitchforks because of how textbook lame that statement was, let me explain myself.

I don’t mean that in a cheesy kumbaya kind of way. Let’s be honest, none of us know what’s going to happen to us in college. We’re going to grow apart. Some of us will move away, some of us will go on adventures. Some of us will settle down into peaceful, white-picket-fence lives. Some of us will become better people, some of us will become worse. For all we know, some of us might end up on the sides of milk cartons. We’re not guaranteed any time together during high school, and we’re especially not guaranteed any time after it.

For this reason, my general disdain for people in large numbers doesn’t apply during homecoming. I want to remember us as we are right now, in all of our awkward glory. Boys in white sport coats that are about three sizes too big. The freshmen who are just happy to be there. The freshmen who are just not happy to be there. The couple that’s been dating for months that will inevitably break up in an extremely public fashion. The group of friends going stag and absolutely rocking it. I go to the dance because these are people that I don’t want to miss.

I think I like homecoming for the same reason that I like airports. I like that everyone’s going somewhere different, somewhere unique, somewhere entirely dependent on their story. But for one single moment, we’re all there together. It’s the art of the common experience, folks, and it’s what makes the homecoming dance worthwhile.

I’m not going to remember the dress that I wore or the first song that I danced to, but I’ll remember the fact that I was there to experience it at all. And in the end, isn’t the experience what matters?